The Business Challenge
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust was one of the first National Health Service (NHS) trusts to virtualize its physical server environment. The Trust maintains three data centers containing more than 230 virtual machines (VMs) that run most of its systems, including clinical applications, SLQ databases and Microsoft products. With plans to increase their virtual estate to over 300 VMs in the next 12 months, the Trust will be moving towards its expected goals of its virtual environment accounting for over 75%.
When more than half of the IT infrastructure was virtualized, it became clear that the disaster recovery (DR) process used with physical servers was not suited to virtual servers. “Instead, we needed a DR solution designed specifically for virtual servers— a cost-effective solution that would enable fast replication and allow us to start one or multiple VMs in the event of a disaster, giving us the ability to fail over quickly and easily,” said Kevin Woodley, Data Center Manager at Oxford Health Informatics Service, which handles IT management for the Trust.
Kevin and his colleagues considered a native DR tool for their virtual infrastructure, but when they mentioned this during a meeting with NCE, a leader in the data storage and virtualization industry that helped them design and execute the virtualization project, NCE suggested they also consider Veeam Backup & Replication.
The Veeam Solution
Kevin and his colleagues compared the two products and quickly chose Veeam Backup & Replication.
“At Oxford University Hospitals, we believe in the power of IT to help health care and are always happy to invest in new technology if it will help lower costs and improve patient care,” he explained. “Veeam proved its value to us within the first week of installation when one of our live production servers had hung. Normally the timehonored solution to this problem would be to power off and power on again. However, this time the server failed to boot. Traditionally, this would have required a full rebuild and potentially long downtime—up to one day. With Veeam Backup & Replication, we simply booted the DR replica and had a live system operating again within three minutes. Veeam paid for itself in one week, which is why it has become a cornerstone of our DR strategy.”
Veeam Backup & Replication provides cost-effective image-based replication of VMs on site for high availability or off site for disaster recovery. “We are able to replicate our entire virtual infrastructure to an off-site location at half the initially budgeted cost,” Kevin said. “If we had chosen the other product, we would have spent 50 percent more to replicate only 20 percent of the virtual estate.”
By leveraging Changed Block Tracking and thin-provisioned disks, Veeam Backup & Replication delivers unprecedented replication speed. “Replication is lightning quick, so a full VM restore is four times faster than before,” Kevin said. He and his colleagues can also capture changes and update VM images as often as every few minutes, and if a VM goes down, they can immediately fail over to a ready-to-start replica.
In addition to replication, the Trust will use Veeam Backup & Replication to back up its virtual servers. “Having backup in this product is a bonus for us,” Kevin explained. “We currently back up our virtual servers with the same tool we use on our physical servers, but it just doesn’t work well. We’re phasing out the physical backup tool and phasing in Veeam Backup & Replication. Once again, Veeam will give us increased confidence in running our systems.”
Improves recovery time from one day to three minutes Before Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust deployed Veeam Backup & Replication, recovery of data and applications took up to one day to complete. With Veeam, it takes minutes. In addition to faster recoveries, Veeam allows multiple roll-back points, so if corruption spread from a live VM to its replica, the VM could still be recovered to an earlier roll-back point.
Decreases disaster recovery costs Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust achieved its return on investment in Veeam Backup & Replication during the first week of deployment. The Trust replicates its entire virtual infrastructure at half of the initial budgeted cost.
Ensures scalability as virtual environment grows
Veeam Backup & Replication imposes no limit on the number of VMs that can be replicated or backed up because there are no per-agent, per-VM or per-application license fees. Therefore, Veeam Backup & Replication will continue to serve the needs of the trust’s expanding virtual infrastructure.
Provides 2-in-1 backup and replication
Veeam’s backup capabilities provide an added bonus to the trust, allowing it to implement new, faster backup procedures without having to spend money on extra tools or licenses.